Cover photo for Walter D. Robb's Obituary
Walter D. Robb Profile Photo
1930 Walter 2017

Walter D. Robb

March 4, 1930 — March 12, 2017

** VIDEO TRIBUTE CAN BE VIEWED BELOW ** Walter D. Robb, age 87 of Belle Fourche, died Sunday, March 12, 2017 at his home surrounded by his loving family. A celebration of his life will take place 11am Saturday, March 25th, 2017 at the Christian Life Center in Belle Fourche. Funeral arrangements are with Leverington Funeral Home of the Northern Hills in Belle Fourche. Walter Dean Robb was born March 4, 1930, in Belle Fourche to Walter and Hazel (Brickle) Robb. He joined an older sister, Helene. On the day of his birth, a comic strip appeared in the newspaper telling of a father named Walter and his wife who had a baby son they named Corky. That is why from the day of his birth to the day he passed on, he was known as Corky Robb. He was born sickly, with rickets, and was not expected to survive until spring, but his mother was a nurse and worked hard to keep him alive. He surprised everyone and survived, spending his first five years of life on the Newland Ranch at Colony, WY, where his father was a ranch hand. His dog “Boots” was his only companion, so at age five, when he moved back into Belle Fourche for school, he developed a liking for people and was quite the talkative little charmer. He graduated from Belle Fourche High School in 1948 and left for Brookings to attend college, graduating in 1953 with a pharmaceutical degree. While at Brookings, a cute little coed caught his eye and all through his life he described to a “T” exactly how she looked and what she was wearing the first day he saw her. Following her to her dormitory, he called her room to ask her on a blind date. Beverly, not knowing anything about Corky, sent her roommate down to check him out. Hearing the report that Corky was a “cute little guy with glasses,” Beverly decided to take a chance. Corky loved that Beverly laughed at everything he said. The courtship was merry except for an impending visit from an old beau of Bev's. Finding out that the old beau was a Golden Gloves boxer, Corky joined the boxing team at college. Because Corky was short, he had to lower the bag down to his height to practice. The bag fell and put a gash in Corky's forehead. Round one to the bag. Later at practice, Corky was to do a “pull three” with a sparring partner. The partner is to step forward, throw three punches and then step back for the opponent to throw his three punches. When it was Corky's turn, it didn't seem to him that three punches was going to do the job, so he really took after the guy. The coach didn't appreciate Corky's initiative and promptly asked him to leave the team. Corky never did have the opportunity to beat the former boyfriend in the ring so decided to befriend him instead. What Corky put his mind to, he usually accomplished, and ultimately the former beau, Marvin Boyer, was best man at their wedding. September 10, 1950, Beverly and Corky were wed in Bev's hometown of Clark, SD, with nearly the entire town in attendance. Good thing too, as Corky had forgotten to mention to his folks that he was getting married. Then the children started coming. Linda (1951) and Jeff (1953) were born in Brookings while Corky finished his degree. JoAnn (1954) and Dean (1955) were born in Sturgis. Finally, John (1957) was born in Mankato, MN. Corky got a job with Parke-Davis Pharmaceuticals as a salesman and relocated the family to Billings, MT. While traveling his territory he received a per diem for food and lodging. Instead of diners or restaurants, Corky would buy bread and bologna and eat in his room. The money he saved was spent on beautiful dresses for Beverly. Corky proved to be a creative and innovative salesman. One little trick he devised to outsell another company's pill that was the exact same pill as his, was to enter a doctor's office with two glasses of water. He'd drop his pill in one glass and the competitor's pill in the other and have the doctor watch to see which pill dissolved faster. Corky's pill always dissolved faster--probably due to the thin layer of Brylcreem applied to the competitor's pill when Corky ran it through his hair. He received many top sales awards. While he was a successful traveling salesman, he decided to pursue another dream. He had always wanted to be a stockbroker, so he took correspondence courses towards that goal. When that was finished, he moved the family back to Clark, SD, while he went to New York to finish his education to become a stockbroker. Even though his fellow classmates were the old money Ivy League types, Corky finished at the top of his class. And when the class was asked to vote for the person they would trust to be their personal stockbroker? Well, Corky won that one, too. The Robb family then moved to Coon Rapids, MN, where Corky started working as a stockbroker during the worst economic times of the 1960s. The first paycheck he brought home from his new career was just a little over $7.00. Although this new career didn't get off the ground, Corky loved the business and personally played the stock market with good results for the rest of his life. Beverly never lost confidence in Corky and he immediately put a plan into action to provide for his family. He took jobs at two different drugstores even though he didn't really like being a pharmacist. He developed a business called PharmaPloy that provided temporary, certified pharmacists to drugstores that needed them. To get this business off the ground, Corky needed some financial backing so he enlisted help from a couple of doctors he had worked with, and Harmon Killebrew, from the Minnesota Twins, as his partners. Later, when an opportunity to buy two drugstores in downtown Minneapolis came his way, Corky sold PharmaPloy to the partners. Corky bought one of the drugstores and the former partners bought the other. Beverly and Corky both worked in the drugstore, with Beverly doing the books and working the lunch counter and Corky filling the prescriptions and keeping an eye out for new adventures. He was fascinated with a nearby business that sold salvage. He'd wander down the block and spend his free time poking around and asking questions. Around this time, when the riots protesting the Vietnam War started, downtown Minneapolis became dangerous territory. Beverly recalls one night she and Corky spent on the floor of their drugstore, Corky with a gun across his lap, protecting their business that had just had its windows broken out. That's when they decided to move back to Belle Fourche. Becker's Drugstore was for sale in Belle Fourche and Corky wanted to see if that would be an opportunity for the family to get back to South Dakota. But another buyer beat Corky to the deal and he had to make a different plan to tide the family over. He went back to Minnesota and the salvage business down the street, purchased a truckload of merchandise and drove it back to Belle Fourche in a rented truck. Renting a building on Grant Street, he opened Belle Fourche Railroad Salvage in 1971. Eventually this is the business idea that would expand to outlets in Colorado, Wyoming, Texas, and three more locations in South Dakota. Corky always gave the credit for the success of Belle Fourche Railroad Salvage and the eventual creation of Robb's, Inc. to his association with two bankers in Belle Fourche: Art Jones and Bill Hannah of First National Bank of the Black Hills (now Wells Fargo), who believed in Corky's vision and determination, and gave him a large line of credit on nothing more than a handshake. For Corky, the salvage business was the career he loved. It provided a good living for his wife and family while satisfying his love of travel and the opportunity to wheel and deal every day. They eventually relocated for part of the year in Texas. In fact, Texas was heaven on earth to Corky and Beverly, and although summers always saw a flock of grandkids visiting them in Galveston, they considered Belle Fourche their home. Corky said he thanked God every day that he didn't get to buy Becker's Drugstore. They never took a vacation, but instead enjoyed a 67-year honeymoon traveling the country buying and selling merchandise. Corky said he spent his life trying to impress Beverly. In 1999, Corky suffered a debilitating stroke, the effects of which he battled for the next 19 years. During that time he divested himself of his businesses by selling his interests to son John and retiring to the home on Kingsbury Street. God granted Corky the gift of a clear mind and a generous spirit, and to his end, Corky prayed for many people each night, and that he would eventually enjoy a home with the angels. Corky passed peacefully from this life on March 12, 2017, at his home in Belle Fourche surrounded by his loving family and amazing caregivers, who had become like family. He is survived by the love of his life, Beverly; his five children who so inspired him: daughters Linda (John) Arleth and JoAnn Robb-Peterson, of Belle Fourche; sons Jeff (Gretchen) Robb and Dean (Elizabeth) Robb of Denver, CO, and John Robb, of Belle Fourche; his sister, Helene Steen, of Rapid City, SD; 13 grandchildren; 17 great-grandchildren; four great-great-grandchildren; and one niece. He was preceded in death by his parents; a brother-in-law Gene Steen; and two dearly-loved grandsons, Michael Robb-Peterson and Jason Robb. The family suggests memorials to the Humane Society.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Walter D. Robb, please visit our flower store.

Visits: 26

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the
Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Service map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

Send Flowers

Send Flowers

Plant A Tree

Plant A Tree